embrace the suck

Embrace the Suck: Do What You Hate to Succeed

A personal take from TFP

Everyone’s advice when picking a career, or working on your own, is to do what you love.  The saying goes: “if you do what you love you don’t work a day in your life”  It’s true right? If you have passion and interest in what you do, then it’s easy to do it, stay motivated and to continue learning and growing in that profession.

However, I also would like to say that you need to embrace the suck and do what you hate.

Where Does Embrace the Suck Come From?

It started in the military as a way to say “the situation sucks, deal with it”. We can’t always control the circumstances we are in, all we can do is try to get through it.

You may also remember first hearing this colorful language from Nancy Pelosi several years ago when speaking to the House Democrats on passing a budget deal. At the time, the party was not too happy with the legislation, however, they were told to “embrace the suck”, in other words, deal with their dissatisfaction and get on with passing it.

Why You Should Do It

Life has its ups and downs as we all know. However, many people deny the downs and are unwilling to face them or deal with them. You can’t do that. You have to properly deal with whatever you’re going through in order to successfully come out as a better person and more learned individual.

To expand on this further, when it comes to accomplishing goals and achieving your dreams, not every part of that path will be fun, or easy.

There’s a lot of nonsense to wade through when you’re going through life. You have to understand that it’s happening for a reason; the hard parts, the difficult times, the struggle is all teaching you what you need to know to get to the finish line.

Some Examples of Embracing the Suck From My Own Life

Allow me to explain using a few examples from my own life.  I’m not saying I’m super successful, but to get to where I am today, I’ve had to do what I hate over and over again.

I Hate Studying

I went to medical school and graduate school (I have an MD/MBA). Growing up I never had to study to do well in school; yea I was one of those kids.  In medical school that changed, obviously.  We had enormous amounts of material to study, memorize, regurgitate at a second’s notice and apply when trying to care for patients.

I HAD to embrace the suck and study to survive and get through it.

If I hadn’t studied, I wouldn’t have graduated, wouldn’t have gotten into (or made it through) residency training, or passed the board certification exams.  If all of that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be working where I am today.

Do what you hate: the reality of medicine

I Am NOT A Morning Person

I’m an anesthesiologist.  Insert crying emoji.  I wake up earlier than just about everyone, except maybe some surgeons.  I aim to BE at the hospital by 630 in the morning and, with my 30 minute commute, this means I’m usually up by 530 AM.  Insert second angry emoji.

As much as I hate waking up early, I am so happy in my chosen profession.  I like the pace of my job, the autonomy, the instant gratification I receive when I give medications and almost immediately see results, and the flexibility it allows me (I can pick up and move anywhere at any time; I don’t have to worry about starting and building a practice).

In addition, the constant early mornings have given me an appreciation of the advantages of waking up early, getting things done and starting off the day in a positive and productive manner.  Even on my days off now, I can’t sleep much longer past 8 AM.

I Hate Public Speaking

I always get the jitters when I’m speaking in front of a group of people.  I can perform a solo dance in front of a crowd of hundreds without issue, but public speaking always gets to me.  My voice gets shaky, I start speaking too fast and I get super self-conscious knowing all eyes are on me.

I took a year off between years 3 and 4 of medical school to go to business school and get my MBA.  A big part of any business program is giving presentations…aka public speaking.

Couldn’t find any pictures of my business school presentations, so here’s a poster my resident and I presented in Las Vegas!

Needless to say, I had to do it; I had to embrace the suck and figure out a way to present without my voice shaking and without feeling so self-conscious. I never expected it, but as the year went on, I cared less and less about the whole ordeal.

Funnily enough, doing something repetitively does make it easier and makes you more comfortable with it.  Was I any good at it? Who knows.  In fact, probably not.  But, what matters more is that I gained a skill that I will always need in my line of work by once again continuing to do what I hate.

I am Not A Fan of Teaching

I work in academics.  As I write this I’m literally laughing out loud.  Part of my job description is teaching residents in the operating room and in preoperative anesthesia clinic and giving lectures.  I do it, of course, but its not something I like to spend time on.  I just don’t think I’m that good at it, and I don’t think I have a talent for it.

However, by doing it, I’ve managed to solidify random bits of knowledge about anesthesia that I may not otherwise be able to remember at the drop of a hat.  Plus, I feel that in doing so, it’s opened the door for other kinds of conversations with residents about life and career decisions.  I’ve even been able to convince one of them to join the fellowship I started!

The Result of Struggling: You Improve

I went through all of that above and came out a stronger person. When you struggle to achieve or attain your goals, you learn so much about yourself, the world, your field of work, and the people in your life.

Plus, you gain new skills. If you persist and keep on going (versus giving up because it gets too hard), you automatically come out ahead. To take from my examples above, I’m more disciplined in completing tasks (from having to sit and study all the time), I appreciate my mornings more (all those early shifts!), I’m more comfortable public speaking (practice really does help) and I know more (from teaching others).

These are just a few examples from my experience; I’m sure if I really sat down and thought about it, I’d find so much more that I’ve learned or become better at just by sheer will of continuing on and embracing the suck.

Embrace the Suck

Nothing in life comes easy, even when you’re doing what you love.  But I think the struggle is necessary and an important part of achieving your goals.  You hear a lot about hard work and sacrifice, but sometimes the work includes tasks you don’t like that drain you of all your energy.  However, by embracing the struggle and doing what you hate, you learn discipline, the importance of a strong work ethic and the value of persistence and keeping your eye on the end game.

By doing what you hate you may also pick up new skills and you’ll definitely gain a new appreciation of what you love.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.com

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